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CHAPTER 5:03

BURIAL AND CREMATION ACT

Acts 49/1962, 77/1963, 44/1964, 27/1968, 16/1972, 12/1973 (s.270), 8/1988, 18/1989(s 6), 13/1994, 6/2000, 22/2001 (s. 4), 23/2004 (s. 282); R.G.N.s 574/1962, 153/1963, 432/1963, 801/1963, 214/1964, 374/1972; S.I.

465/1982.

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART I

PRELIMINARY Section

  1. Short title.

PART II

BURIAL

  1. No burial to take place without burial order in certain places.
  2. Where no burial order is required.
  3. Burial order issued by registrar.
  4. Magistrate or Registrar-General of Births and Deaths to issue burial orders in other cases.
  5. Medical practitioner to report certain deaths to magistrate.
  6. [Repealed].
  7. Burial by State in certain circumstances
  8. [Repealed].

PART III

CREMATION

  1. Bodies to be burned in or at crematoria.
  2. Cremation authority.
  3. Crematoria to be approved by Minister.
  4. Sites of crematoria.
  5. Offences and penalties.
  6. Inquests and nuisances.

AN ACT to make provision for the burial of deceased persons and still-born children; to require medical practitioners to make reports in connection with certain deaths; to enable persons to establish crematoria and to provide for the regulation of the burning of human bodies; and to provide for other matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.

[Date of commencement: 30th November, 1963.]

PART I

PRELIMINARY

1    Short title

This Act may be cited as the Burial and Cremation Act [Chapter 5:03].

                       2    Interpretation

In this Act—

“body” means the body of a deceased person or a still-born child and includes any part or remains of such body but does not include any part of the body of a deceased person removed from his body during his

lifetime in the course of a surgical operation by a registered medical practitioner;

“burial’’ means burial in earth, interment or any other form of sepulture of a body;

“burial order” means an order given under this Act authorizing the burial of a body;

“cremation authority” means a person authorized to be a cremation authority in terms of section eleven;

“crematorium” means any place, site, building or structure used for the burning of bodies and includes everything ancillary or incidental thereto;

“informant” means any person who is responsible for giving notice of a death or still-birth in terms of section 11, 20 or 22 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02];

“Minister” means the Minister of Home Affairs or any other Minister to whom the President may, from time to time, assign the administration of this Act;

“registered medical practitioner” means a person registered as a medical practitioner in terms of the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19];

[Definition as amended by section 151 of Act 6 of 2000.]

“registrar” means a person appointed as registrar, deputy registrar or assistant registrar in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02];

“urban area” means any area—

  • under the jurisdiction of a municipal council, town council or local board; or
  • within a town ward of a rural district council; or
  • which is from time to time declared by the Minister, by notice in a statutory instrument, to be an urban area for the purposes of this Act.

PART II

BURIAL

                       3    No burial to take place without burial order in certain places

  • Subject to section four, no person shall bury any body or conduct any funeral or religious service in connection with any burial without a burial order.
  • Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

[Subsection inserted by section 4 of Act 22 of 2001]

                       4    Where no burial order is required

(1) No burial order shall be required for any burial where—

  • the immediate burial of the body of a person who has died from an infectious disease is ordered by any authority under any enactment relating to public health; or
  • a burial order could not be reasonably obtained within forty-eight hours of the death or still-birth; or
  • the deceased died or the birth of a still-born child occurred, as the case may be, in such area or areas as the Minister may, by notice in a statutory instrument, declare to be exempt from section three.
  • Any person who buries any body or conducts any funeral or religious service in connection with the burial of any body for which no burial order is required in terms of paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1) and for which no burial order has been issued shall, within fourteen days after the burial, give notice thereof to the registrar of the district from which such body has been brought for burial or within which such burial or funeral or religious service has been conducted.
  • On receipt of a notice in terms of subsection (2) the registrar may issue an order approving of the burial if he is satisfied that the death was the result of natural causes.
  • Any person who contravenes subsection (2) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

[Subsection inserted by section 4 of Act 22 of 2001]

                       5    Burial order issued by registrar

A registrar shall, at the request of the informant, furnish to him free of charge a burial order in the following circumstances—

  • in the case of a death—
    • on receipt in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02] of notice of the death and a certificate of a medical practitioner stating that to the best of his knowledge and belief the death was the result of natural causes; or
    • after inquiry in terms of section 23 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02] if the registrar is satisfied that the death was the result of natural causes;
  • in the case of a still-birth, on receipt in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02] of notice of the still-birth and a certificate or declaration in terms of subsection (4) of section 11 of that Act.

                       6    Magistrate or Registrar-General of Births and Deaths to issue burial orders in other cases

Where a registrar is not authorized in terms of section five to issue a burial order, the duty to furnish a burial order is imposed on a magistrate or, if a magistrate is not available, the Registrar-General of Births and Deaths, who shall, if satisfied that the post-mortem examination of a body is completed or unnecessary, at the request of the person undertaking the burial, issue a burial order free of charge.

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